By the time they showed up, most everyone in the neighborhood had given up on the streets. They were cracked down to the dirt. Cars and trucks routinely turned over asphalt clods, which then became part of the general rubble.
Then the water guys came. They replaced the water pipes, which some said were going on seventy years old. No one was surprised—the city has a long history of overlooking its quaint little neighborhoods when the houses are small and off the beaten path.
The water guys dug. They filled the narrow streets with piles of dirt, using everything from backhoes to hand shovels. Despite the June heat and tight quarters, they worked fast and they worked clean and courteous.
They also dealt the final blow to the streets. After all the digging, the streets were almost impassable. But that was good, because hard on the heels of the water guys came the street guys.
The street guys ripped up what was left of the old asphalt and laid down new. Like the water guys, they were fast, clean, and unfailingly polite. In what still seems like a mere flash in time, the little neighborhood had new pipes and new streets.
It’s the custom these days to knock public employees. According to the conventional wisdom, they’re overpaid and underworked. Not so with these guys. These Modesto city workers started when they said they would and finished when they said they would. They worked fast and they worked clean.
Watching them in action made some observers wish Modesto voters had been wise enough to approve the one cent sales tax on last year’s ballot. With a little backing, these public employees could go a long way toward restoring our crumbling infrastructure citywide. Let’s hope voters will give them another chance; Modesto city workers rock.